High school student Rumi Yokoi has a very interesting desk neighbor in her classroom. Yokoi is studious, but her neighbor, Toshinari Seki likes to goof off during class. This isn’t normal goofing off, however. Seki goes all out, and becomes a continual distraction for poor Yokoi. Seki brings toys to play with, plays games, builds things, crafts the perfect bento, and even brings animals. Everything is pulled from his seemingly bottomless pit book bag. Try as she might, Yokoi just can’t manage to ignore Seki’s outrageous behavior, and often finds herself getting into trouble while being distracted by his shenanigans. Often she’ll lose track of time and miss copying down important lecture notes, or she’ll accidentally attract the teacher’s attention. Sneaky Seki instantly hides away his toys with study materials, making Yokoi look like the trouble student. Most of the time Seki ignores Yokoi, but occasionally he’ll incorporate her into his games. Or Yokoi will inject herself into them, usually by trying to ruin his fun, or make him take class time seriously. Other times Yokoi gets as carried away as Seki, often making up amazing, complex stories to go along with whatever game he is playing. Whether or not Seki shares the same imagination is unclear; sometimes it seems like Yokoi is running away with things all on her own. Seki is an undeniable expert at goofing off in class, and he takes it to extremes, even resorting to playing with his bare feet when the person who sits in front of him is absent. Oddly, Seki is almost entirely silent. He “talks” to classmates, but there’s never any actual text. It’s made up for with a very expressive face, as well as Yokoi’s narration. From playing with action figures, to drawing Go and Shogi lines on his desk, and even delivering notes for classmates, Seki always has a scheme to entertain himself with. The supporting cast is minimal, but includes a boy who can never read the mood (Uzawa) and a girl (Goto) who thinks Yokoi and Seki must be going out together.
My Neighbor Seki is cute. An amusing diversion. It’s creative, and well drawn. But don’t come looking for a complex story or depth; you won’t find it, at least not in the first two volumes, and I personally don’t intend to read anymore. There are series that make me literally laugh myself off my furniture, though, so I’m not into spending my time and money on something I only find mildly amusing. It is a nice, relaxing read; a pleasant break from hectic title filled with action and drama. It’s fun watching Yokoi getting swept up in Seki’s antics, especially when she appears to get way more involved than he is, despite all her protests that he get serious about his studies. Theirs is an odd friendship, and it’s easy to fall into Goto’s shoes and suspect them of dating when you’re merely watching from a distance. They’re not even friends, really, since they barely talk to each other, but Yokoi looks after Seki in her own way. If you’d rather see Seki’s games in action, there was animated series of shorts that ran in the first season of 2014, and you can find it on Crunchyroll.